Receptacles for food storage have been transformed over time from functional objects to design objects. However, one thing has not changed: we still stuff our food into a big box, even though that box might come in different shapes and colours. But what if food storage was more flexible, visible and able to grow with your needs? “We saw it as evolving the kitchen space into a landscape scenario, and changing the known monolithic elements that we use now as fridges for something less stylised and more related to our contemporary way of consuming food. Hopefully, by enhancing the efficiency of storage systems, we can reduce food waste and encourage a better and healthier consumption of food too,” says Jacopo Sarzi, a London-based multidisciplinary designer.
Inspired by a study that pointed out that people are more likely to eat whatever is visible in their kitchens, they made both the units and everything inside them visible. “If you have candy and fatty chips visible on the counter of your kitchen versus fresh fruit in your fridge hidden away, you are more likely to consume the former. And vice versa,” Doruk Gurel from Stanford University adds. The units are intended to be subdivided, “so they can optimise for the food inside that specific compartment. If you have meat, it sets itself to a certain temperature, whereas vegetables stay fresh longer at a different temperature,” Gurel explains. Together with fellow Stanford graduate student Dickson Chow, who is known for inventing an oxygen backpack, Gurel and Sarzi added heating to the units as well, so the thermal insulation of the units can be used for freezing, cooking, and everything in between. “We also wanted to have the convenience of individual units that can connect online and be controlled from your phone. If you forgot to thaw the minced beef for dinner, you can do it from work, so it is ready when you come home.”
While exploring the possibilities of the unit system, they came up with ideas for a system that would deliver the perfect amount of fresh ingredients for a meal in a box – a box that fit perfectly into the storage/cooking system, of course – and which could be customised with respect to dietary needs (vegetarian, gluten free, etc.) and portion size.